Modelcraft 1/500 Oriana

By Michael Benolkin



The Oriana was a long-haul cruise liner built by Vickers Armstrong for the Orient Lines. Launched on November 3, 1959, the Oriana completed her fitting and embarked on her maiden voyage in November 1960. The Oriana was 804 feet long with a gross tonnage of 41,920 tons. She was configured to carry 638 first class passengers and 1,496 tourist class passengers. In 1964, set a new record for passage between Auckland and Sydney – 45 hours 24 minutes at 27.76 knots.

In terms of today's cruise liners, Oriana was huge. In fact, she was involved with a collision at sea with the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge in 1962, sustaining only minor damage.

Oriana served almost continuously through her cruise career until she was retired in 1985, and was subsequently sold to become a tourist center in Japan. You'll find her today in Beppu, Japan.

The Kit

Modelcraft has released a completely new and unique subject in this kit. The Oriana was distinctive with its wide open observation decks in the stern. The kit is over 19 inches long, molded in white injection-molded plastic. The trees are free of flash and the parts are free of injector pin marks in any of the visible locations.

The one-piece hull is well done, considering the complexity of the stern framing. Only a hint of a mold line is present along the centerline of the hull and will disappear easily with a sanding stick.

As with all cruise ships (save the Titanic), there are plenty of lifeboats and these are also well represented here.

Construction appears to be very straightforward and should not yield any surprises. This sample had been on display at the RCHTA show, so no decals nor instructions were available for this review.

As with many ships in this scale, there in an option for motorizing the model. The Oriana was powered by twin screws, and unlike other models, both screws on this kit operate. In fact, whether you chose to float your Oriana or not, you'll want to install this power system. This is the slickest bit of work I've seen in a model of this type. A single three-volt motor powers the twin screws through an ingenious pre-built transmission. The batteries are kept in a compartment molded into the main deck under the superstructure.

The Oriana started its career with the hull painted in a 'corn' color (a golden yellow) with a white superstructure and 'corn' on the twin stacks. In 1964, the hull was re-painted white, though the stacks appear to have retained the 'corn' color. The color at and below the waterline appears to be black in the early and late photos I've been able to find. In the early and late colors, the top of the forward stack is painted black.


This kit will be a fun diversion from the usual warships that are on the market, and definitely something different from all of the Titanics that have been available as well. This kit will be an easy build for modelers of all skill levels, and will provide a nice foundation for the superdetailer as well.

My sincere thanks to Modelcraft for this sample and I hope they offer other unique subjects like this in the future.

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